Learn to manage citations with EndNote @ Hardin Library August 5 or 6

Learn how to organize and format your citations with our free workshops.  EndNote logo
EndNote Desktop is a reference management tool that helps you to easily gather together your references in one place, organize them, and then insert them into papers and format them in a style of your choosing. This session will walk you through the basics of using EndNote to collect and format your citations. The class will be hands-on and there will be time for questions at the end.  EndNote Desktop is available for faculty, staff and graduate students at no charge.
EndNote Basic is a web-based citation management software that is freely available to all UI affiliates. It allows you to import, organize and format citations for papers, articles, etc. EndNote Basic is not the same as the desktop software, Endnote.

No time for class?  See our guide for help!

Science Fiction Fans Raise $1,955 To Support Hevelin Collection Digitization

Every year at the ICON Science Fiction convention in Cedar Rapids collects fan created artwork, crafts, and donated memorabilia which are auctioned off for charity.  Last fall, the chosen charity was The University of Iowa Libraries’ initiative to digitize the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction collection, an especially meaningful choice to the community, resulting in an outpouring of donations and fast-paced bidding wars.

Rusty Hevelin was a science fiction fan, pulp collector, fanzine creator, huckster (a dealer at conventions), and voracious reader for most of his 89 years who was involved with the Iowa Science Fiction conventions ICON and Demicon from the time of their founding.  After his death in 2011, his collections came here to the University of Iowa Special Collections where a recent unprecedented initiative to digitize around 10,000 of the earliest fanzines from roughly 1930s-1950s has begun.

The University of Iowa Libraries’ Community is deeply grateful for the generosity of the science fiction community and for their support.

The next ICON science fiction and fantasy convention will be at the Cedar Rapids Doubletree on October 16-18, 2015.  Details here.

Special Collections staff with an oversized check


The Individuals in History

I cannot begin to tell you how I got started working with the Sterns Family Papers.  But I can tell you that before opening those three boxes, I had a below-average interest in the civil war.  Having gone through the American public school system, I learned about the civil war at least once every school year until about the 11th grade.  It was as if each teacher was afraid that somehow, that lesson had been skipped the previous year.  While there was certainly some more information added to the lesson each year (like that dark time when we learned it was really all about the economy), the lessons surrounding the civil war largely stayed the same.  North vs. South, freedom vs. slavery, brother vs. brother.

Enter, Thomas Rescum Sterns: a real, live, Civil War soldier who fought for the Union.  Sure, he’s no Abraham Lincoln, but he was a citizen of the United States with a farm, a family, and a job, teaching the third grade in Wisconsin.  Thomas wrote letters to his wife, Lavinia Sterns, during his time as a soldier, and these are being preserved in our civil war letter collection.  When I stumbled across these letters, I became absorbed by them.  I couldn’t stop reading.  Here were letters written by someone who was experiencing the events, firsthand, that I had only read about in textbooks.  It was like watching a movie, or reading a novel about the civil war, except it was real, interesting, heart wrenching, and hilarious.

“I take the pleasure of writing a few lines to you…” is how Thomas Rescum Sterns started his lengthy series of correspondence to his wife.  Thomas wrote about the sickness he observed, and later experienced, in the camp at which he was stationed.  He wrote about the progress of the war, and how, due to his location, Lavinia probably knew more about it than he did.  But most importantly, he wrote about hardtack: that stale bit of cracker they were all subsisting on, and Thomas took it in stride, but didn’t hesitate to crack a few jokes about the civil war staple.

rescum blog“Oh! yes a few words about our fare. As I told you in my other letter our bread is principally crackers. A day or two ago Dolph had been to dinner eating crackers of course. We found one that was marked 1801 and another the date being still earlier. It being made in Nazareth B.C. 36. You may judge whether they are old and hard or not. You need not be afraid of my getting killed by the enemy’s bullets for this reason. Just before I go into battle, if such may be the case, I shall fill myself as full as possible with these crackers which of course are hard and then I shall oil my belly and of course if the bullets strike me then glance as though they had struck an ironclad gunboat” (Nov. 12, 1862).


So why should we care what Thomas Rescum Sterns thinks?  Sure, his thoughts on hardtack may not be the most historically significant, but those few lines prove that Thomas Rescum Sterns wasn’t just another statistic.  He was a real person, with real thoughts, and a very real sense of humor.

And I suppose that’s how I fell in love with this collection.  Thomas Rescum Sterns reminded me that history is about the individual.  The ability to personalize history is such an incredible opportunity provided by our collections, and it has truly reignited my interest in our past.

So if you feel like you’re in a historical rut, check out this collection, and more on the Iowa Digital Library’s website.


A display in the reading room about the life of Thomas Rescum Sterns

And if you’d like to see more about Thomas Rescum Sterns, check out our Tumblr series, or this great article written by a former head of Special Collections and University Archives.


Remembering Earl Rogers, the University of Iowa’s Archivist from 1970 to 1998

EarlRogersJamesVanAllen1998 from Accession 2006-44001

Photo: Earl Rogers (right) with James Van Allen, whose papers were processed under Earl’s supervision, at Earl’s retirement reception in the Dept. of Special Collections in May 1998. From UI Archives Accession 2006-44; gift of David Schoonover.

We are sorry to note that Earl Rogers, the University of Iowa’s archivist from 1970 to 1998, passed away early Wednesday morning at his home in Iowa City following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 77.

Earl was born May 2, 1938, in Moline, Illinois. He received the bachelor of science degree in history in 1961 at Iowa State University, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a history graduate student in 1962-1966, and completed his master of library science degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967. After a three-year stint as a cataloguer in the University of Utah Library, he returned to Iowa, joining the UI Libraries’ Department of Special Collections in July 1970 to arrange and index the Henry A. Wallace Papers. Over time, he assumed the role of university archivist. He published numerous indexes and bibliographies pertaining to agricultural and UI history. Among his many noted acquisitions are the Papers of James A. Van Allen, which were processed under his supervision.

Although Earl retired in 1998, he continued to maintain two features on the UI Archives’ web site: our online bibliography of UI history-related materials, and a unique page titled ‘Fiction With an Iowa City Setting: An Updated Checklist.’ Earl would, from time to time, submit new entries or annotations for me to add to these sites.

I always looked forward to hearing from Earl, regardless of the nature of his dispatch, whether it was a new list of entries to upload, a report on his and Susan’s latest trips (Galapagos Islands, Turkey, and New Zealand, for starters), or a review of a new local restaurant. Earl often stopped by our department to drop off an obituary, a clipping, or an article for our vertical file. We appreciated his vigilance, not to mention his subscription to The New York Times.

Earl never second-guessed my decisions as his successor, though certainly on many occasions he had good reason to tap me on the shoulder. I would like to believe it was because he trusted me. More likely, however, it was because he and Susan were having a blast in Peru.

I feel a bit stranded right now. Because of Earl’s remarkable longevity as UI’s archivist – 28 years – and the fact that his position was vacant for over two years until I arrived in 2001, I now have no direct forebear from the archives to call on, no predecessor, whether retired or working elsewhere. Archivists value institutional memory, particularly when shared memory and experience pass from one generation to the next within their shop. Those links inevitably break as time passes.

One last round of web page updates from Earl awaits on my desk. I’ll get to them soon.

Thank you, Earl, and our condolences to Susan and family.


David McCartney, C.A.

University Archivist

Math Journals Moving Location in Main Library

To improve findability for the journals held in the Main Library, the math collection journals are being moved from the 2nd floor to the 3rd floor and will be located adjacent to the other journals. Bookstacks staff are beginning to move these materials upstairs and in a few months you will be able to find the math collection journals in the northeast corner of the third floor. In the meantime, if you have problems locating a title, please contact the Service Desk staff on the 1st floor.

New Online Tool for Iowa Flood Information!

As rainy as it has been lately, you may want to learn more about flooding and how to check the flood conditions in your area.

Almost everyone knows that floodplains are the lowlands and relatively flat areas adjoining waterways that are subject to flooding.  Floodplains are, in fact, an extension of the water system.  Their natural function is to help move high water volumes downstream or to store the water until flooding subsides.  They provide a variety of functions including flood water storage, filtration and removal of water pollutants, channel stability and erosion control, wildlife habitat, beauty and recreational opportunities and stream baseflow. Building and developing on flood plains disrupts the ability of floodplains to perform these vital functions. Not to mention the danger that flooding causes to property, homes, and lives.


Designing the Sustainable Site. Heather Venhaus. Graphic page 121. Engineering Library NA9051 .V46 2012

We’ve heard of the 100-year-floodplain, but perhaps don’t know that it doesn’t mean that a flood will only occur every hundred years. Floodplains are classified by the likelihood of flooding in a given year. An elevation that has a 1% chance of being flooded each year is designated as a 100-year-floodplain. In fact, 100-year-floods (and floods of any designation) can occur in a relatively short period of time.  Since floods are not consistent in their timing, it can be easy to downplay or ignore the risks until it is too late to prevent damage. Floods are the most frequent of natural disasters and destructive floods occur world-wide.

We here in southeast Iowa know about floods first-hand.  To help residents understand localized flooding, the University of Iowa Flood Center (IFC) has developed a new interactive, online tool to access local flood information.  The IFC is part of Hydroscience & Engineering (IIHR), a research institute at the UI College of Engineering. It is the nation’s first academic center devoted solely to the study of floods.

The Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) includes access to current stream and river level data from 19 stream-stage sensors in Johnson County. IFIS provides information that can help Johnson County residents make more informed decisions for flood planning and mitigation. It will also alert community members in advance so they are better able to stay safe and minimize potential flood damage.

The user-friendly, online application displays up-to-the-minute community specific information on rainfall, stream levels, and more, including:

  • Iowa River flood inundation maps for Iowa City/Cedar Rapids
  • Real-time and historical data on water levels, gauge heights, and rainfall conditions
  • 2D and 3D interactive visualizations
  • Discharge levels at the Coralville Lake Reservoir

It is “a one-stop web-platform to access community-based flood conditions, forecasts, visualizations, inundation maps, flood-related data, information and applications.” The website has an informative video tutorial which will walk you through the many features available.

Be aware of the flood conditions near you – and stay safe!


Venhaus, Heather. 2012. Designing the sustainable site : integrated design strategies for small-scale sites and residential landscapes. Hoboken, N.J : John Wiley & Sons.

Jha, Abhas Kumar. 2012. Cities and flooding : a guide to integrated urban flood risk management for the 21st century. Washington, D.C. : World Bank.

Iowa Flood Center. 2015. University of Iowa.

Iowa Flood Information System. Iowa Flood Center. University of Iowa. Date accessed: June, 2015.


Price, Roland K. 2011. Urban hydroinformatics : data models, and decision support for integrated urban water management. London : IWA Publishing.

Brody, Samuel David. 2011. Rising waters : the causes and consequences of flooding in the United States. Cambridge, New York : Cambridge University Press.

Mambretti, S., editor. 2012. Flood risk assessment and management. Southampton ; Boston : WIT Press.

FloodSmart.govJune 17, 2015. FEMA.

Math Journals Moving Location in Main Library

To improve findability for the journals held in the Main Library, the math collection journals are being moved from the 2nd floor to the 3rd floor and will be located adjacent to the other journals. Bookstacks staff are beginning to move these materials upstairs and in a few months you will be able to find the math collection journals in the northeast corner of the third floor. In the meantime, if you have problems locating a title, please contact the Service Desk staff on the 1st floor.